The experience of strategy

Chris Mowles has a great post about his experience at a strategy presentation. He highlights the contrast between the presenter’s idealised abstractions and what is actually going on in the room. This bit captures that distinction:

As he proceeded to explain in rather Jesuitical fashion how he and his team had worried about the order of the words in the vision statement whether it should be ‘internationally renowned for being the leading X’, or rather ‘renowned internationally for being the leading X’ he failed to notice how many people in the audience, either literally or metaphorically, were sitting with their heads in their hands.

The whole thing is well worth your time. This is not so much a post about a dull presentation – we all know about those. The deeper point is about how management so easily gets caught up in abstraction and misses the actual life going on before it.

I feel another video coming on…

1 thought on “The experience of strategy

  1. Shawn Callaha

    Word smithing strategies seems to be a plague of strategy sessions and as you point out, abstractions just make it hard for anyone to grasp.

    There is a wonderful Chip Heath video (might be Dan) where they cleverly show how ridiculous word smithing can be.

    In workshops I keep this video in my back pocket and if if feel the group is heading in that direction I pull it out. It never fails.

    But I think there is even bigger problem here. Organisations have fallen into the trap of believing that they just need to complete the strategy template and they’re done.

    Instead they should be working the strategic challenges and opportunities they face AND MAKE REAL CHOICES.

    And the make everything concrete ensure everyone tells the story of what’s happening and what could happen and what we hope will happen as we pursue these choices.


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